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The Sackets Harbor Experience

Sackets Harbor Aerial
Aerial view of the historic village of Sackets Harbor

About Sackets Harbor
Overlooking beautiful Lake Ontario and sheltered on Black River Bay, the village of Sackets Harbor is a New York State Heritage Area featuring exceptional historic attractions and charming tree-lined streets.

Following the outbreak of war between the United States and Great Britain in June 1812, Sackets Harbor became the center of American naval and military activity for the upper St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Ontario. The village also was the center for shipbuilding on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812 and the target of multiple British attacks during the war.

Discover Sackets Harbor’s unique history, charming architecture, and spectacular waterfront scenery.

For Group Tour Reservations and Pricing call 315-646-2321 or email:

For Extended Tour Ideas, ask for a list of restaurants, gift shops, accomodations, and nearby attractions including Lake Ontario Playhouse and Old McDonald's Farm.

Augustus Sacket Mansion
Built by Augustus Sacket in 1802-1803, the mansion now houses the Sackets Harbor Visitors’ Center. Guests will have the opportunity to tour the historic building, view historical exhibits, watch the “Harbor of Destiny” video, and shop at the Gift Shop.

In 1801, a New York lawyer and land speculator traveled to Lake Ontario to verify reports of a naturally sheltered harbor on Black River Bay. Much to his satisfaction, the reports were true, and later that year, Augustus Sacket bought the entire area now known as the Village of Sackets Harbor.

“The flourishing state of Mr Sacket’s village, its advantages of water carriage, and its valuable fishery, render it one of the most inviting objects to an industrious settler.”

For his own family, Augustus built a splendid Palladian-style villa in 1802-1803. He sold his lands and moved away from the area in 1809. During the War of 1812, the Mansion served as officers' quarters and as a hospital. The Village of Sackets Harbor bought the property in 1980, and restored the structure to its original 1803 configuration.
Sackets Harbor Visitor Center
Madison Barracks
Founded because of the area’s strategic importance during the War of 1812, Madison Barracks has aided the U.S. in every war through World War II. The historic barracks have been converted to residential housing, yet still retain their historic architectural characteristics.

In 1815, the construction of Madison Barracks had begun. On its completion, they were considered to be one of the nation’s best military posts and a key to America’s northern defense.

Beginning in 1838, new buildings were constructed including a stone commissary, a quartermaster’s storehouse, an ordinance building, a guard house, and a hospital. A local doctor, Samuel Guthrie, invented Chloroform in Sackets Harbor, possibly collaborating with Army surgeons here at the Stone Hospital.

In 1848, units of the 4th Infantry Regiment returned from the Mexican War and were stationed at Madison Barracks. One of the new arrivals was a young 2nd Lieutenant named Ulysses S. Grant.

In the words of General Jacob Brown (1819), Madison Barracks “will endure for ages, a monument of the folly and the wisdom of those by whom they were erected”.
Madison Barracks


Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site
The Sackets Harbor Battlefield shares the region’s rich War of 1812 heritage through an interpretive trail and exhibits, living history, tours of a completely restored 1860 naval officer's home, and an informational gallery and gift shop. During the summer months, staff re-enact 1813 camp life of soldiers and laundresses.

Given the importance of Sackets Harbor to U.S. Naval operations during the War of 1812, the British first tried attacking the village on July 19, 1812. British ships exchanged fire with the USS Oneida and a 32-pound cannon onshore (notably there was no shot in town larger than 24-pound balls, which were wrapped in pieces of carpet and used in the 32-pounder). The British flagship Royal George suffered damage and the British fleet retreated to Kingston.

The following year, as Commodore Chauncey’s squadron was spotted off Fort George in the western end of Lake Ontario, the British saw an opportunity to capture Sackets Harbor and deliver a decisive blow that would ensure British supremacy on the lake. On May 29, 1813, British troops landed on Horse Island, south of town. They initially succeeded in pushing the American troops back, yet the British were largely unsuccessful in their efforts. With their ships ineffective, and American militia attacking, the British gave the order to retreat.

Sackets Harbor Battlefield


Pickering-Beach Museum
Step back in time and explore the rich cultural heritage of Sackets Harbor while visiting the home of shipbuilder Augustus Pickering and his family, c. 1817, depicting life in the village in the mid-19th century.

The Pickering-Beach Historical Museum depicts life in Sackets Harbor in the mid-19th century. The Pickering-Beach House was built circa 1817 by Joshua Pickering, a native of Massachusetts. Joshua died in 1822 and the House passed to his son, Captain Augustus A. Pickering. Captain Pickering was a Great Lakes Captain and the first person to sail a commercial vessel in to the port of Chicago. After Captain Pickering's death, the house eventually became property of his daughter, Olivia Pickering. Olivia married Allen C. Beach, a lawyer who served as Lieutenant Governor under Gov. John T. Hoffman from 1868 to 1872 and as Secretary of New York State from 1878 to 1880.

In 1941, the Pickering Cottage and Pickering-Beach House were deeded to the Village of Sackets Harbor. With funding from New York State and substantial support from the Village and the Sackets Harbor Historical Society, the Pickering-Beach House was completely renovated and re-opened in June of 1998.